Università degli Studi di Milano, 2013-11-08

The associations established in the years following the Second World War – in particular the Congress for cultural freedom (CCF) and the Société européenne de culture (European Society of Culture, SEC) – were intended to create bonds among intellectuals and to promote the discussion about their function within society. This study investigates the reasons and causes which lead to said associations, and it analyses the intellectual’s perception of their own role at that time and of the instruments they had to perform their civil task. The SEC, founded by the philosopher Umberto Campagnolo in 1950, has been chosen as the case study. The present PhD thesis is divided into: a methodology introduction, a story of culture organization between the end of the Nineteenth Century and the Second World War (a part which has been considered necessary in order to underline the aspects of continuity and the possible original features regarding intellectuals’ associations that were founded during the Cold War years) and, finally, an in-depth analysis of the case study. The investigation moves from a transnational and comparative perspective, making use of the analytical procedure, first introduced by Pierre Bourdieu and Gisèle Sapiro, in a critical manner. In order to explore the core of this thesis, several different phases have been identified: the first one falls between 1945 and 1950, the second between 1950 (year of birth for the main intellectuals’ associations) and September 1953, the third covering the period until March 1956, an important date in SEC history. For this study a wide review of cultural magazines, as well as of relevant archive material has been carried out. Campagnolo conceived culture as a creation of values: in his opinion since intellectuals, were responsible for conceiving ideas and symbols they should maintain full autonomy in the literary field. It was exactly in such dualism between autonomy and engagement that the SEC’s originality can be traced. The association was founded on the conviction that, only by uniting their strength, intellectuals would have been able to win influence within society, though it was the individual who had to commit himself/herself personally. The SEC’s peculiarity was determined also by its effective political independence, in spite of financing from the Italian government. It was conceived as a real association, and the instruments used for its action – the magazine “Comprendre”, the national centres and the Rencontre Est-Ouest [“East-West Encounter”] – did represent new important elements for the organizations of the time. By means of a thorough study of Campagnolo’s speeches, of the “Comprendre” magazine, of the Meetings debates, of correspondence and of the strategy for new members’ recruitment, the SEC’s task was defined as “metaphysical”, meaning that it was not linked to events, but to the spirit which should have accompanied any cultural action. It was hence inferred that the SEC and the CCF were competing for non-political reasons. Actually, the SEC intended to safeguard the autonomy of intellectual relations (defining such an approach as politique de la culture [politics of culture]), while the CCF supported heteronomy, employing Art and literature with a precise political aim. The contrast between these two institutions was hence due to a different conception the intellectuals held about their own role in society. Therefore, the associations under examination did not represent an instrument with a univocal meaning: as demonstrated by the analysis which has been carried out, they were devoid of any intrinsically autonomous or heteronymous function with respect to the literary field. Furthermore it is clearly confirmed that intellectuals had a role of mediation, as they had always affirmed during past history The development of intellectuals’ associations needs to be ascribed to the social aspects of the writer’s or artist’s function, more than to political factors related to the conflict between the blocks. In the attempt to fully understand the reasons for the success of intellectuals’ associations in those years, it has been hypothesized that a decline of the authority provided by traditional mediation forms among intellectuals, masses and politics had occurred. The social problem connected to such form of cultural organization was brought to light: in the SEC, it was less renowned intellectuals who showed particular involvement, and this means that actual interest for the SEC was due to their social condition and to the position a person had in the intellectual field. The sources examined have shown how in Western Europe, after the Cold War peak reached in the months of armed conflict in Korea, the conception of engagement itself evolved: intellectuals were integral part of society, were free to choose time, place and mode for their interventions, positioning themselves midway between pure action and pure Art. This point of arrival corresponded to Campagnolo’s own conclusions, who rightly maintained that the root of the intellectuals’ problem and of their crisis was social, rather than moral or political, relating to their role in a society which was more and more massified. The acceptance of an intermediate position among those expressed after the Second World War put a light on how ideological differences could be smoothed, while the need for autonomy and defence of intellectuals as expressed by associations remained.

diritti: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
Tutor: I. Piazzoni
O. Janz (Freie Universität Berlin)
Settore M-STO/04 - - Storia Contemporanea

Tesi di dottorato. | Lingua: Italiano. | Paese: | BID: TD16001300